Confusion of Tongues (Rebuilding the Tower of Babel Horizontally Out of Water)

from by Gary Setzer

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Up up up
To the top of the tower that we built for this purpose.
Down down down
The stairs, everybody thinks that we’re pretentious.
We say,
We cannot remember why we built up and there is no reason.
Would I, could I, float above the surface?
But they tell me not to, but they tell me not to.

The life, the word,
The life of words,
The word is heard and it pulls my teeth.
This spool, of drool,
It lingers sideways,
Projects into the air,
Momentary free suspension.

Verticality and the masonry
Couldn’t sing songs like gravity.
So I
Make it horizontal and I put it down,
On its side, replace the brick with water,
See the structure capsize.
Confusion of the tongues, you’re waiting for the flood
But this model changes shape,
Water accelerates,
When the surface of the ground drops down
We will launch into the sky.

I want to see like the waterfall,
Build like the waterfall,
Act like the waterfall.
One million pieces interchanging,
It’s a surface crawl, after all.
Hydrogen hydrogen oxygen;
Can’t be, won’t be, is not tall.
We know this model hugs horizon, but we feel it charts more smoothly.
And so these tongues divide, with tributaries branching wide,
It works with gravity
It works with gravity.

The tongue is tried,
The tongues will try,
To stitch themselves together drawing roots and river systems.

We resist
Hecklers’ cries as they shout out loud, “vertical hierarchy.”
We sprawl out,
Become the flood that sparked the seed that grew the need for this anti-gravity.
Like a
Stream inside a stream this model dreams itself to be so experiential,
And they’ll
Scream, “pretension.” So we mention, the tower can’t fall.




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Gary Setzer Tucson, Arizona

Gary Setzer is an interdisciplinary artist. He currently lives and works in Tucson, where he is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Arizona. His performances, installations, objects, and videos have been exhibited and screened extensively. ... more

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